As a college grad, I traveled to Israel with a group of passionate Bible students. We wandered in the desert like the Israelites, took pictures in the fields scattered with mustard seed, and walked where Jesus may have walked. Just about everywhere we went, our guide instructed us to stick our pinky fingers in the air and recite the Shema, a prayer from Deuteronomy 6:4-5 that’s derived from ancient Israeli tradition—kind of like the Jewish version of the Lord’s prayer:
“Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”
Moses originally spoke these words to God’s chosen people—a people who had been created by God, for God, who rebelled against God, and who would one day be rescued by God. God wanted His people to love and serve Him, but their hearts had gone astray—they had chosen to live their own way. Yet despite their faithlessness, God remained faithful. Here we find Moses calling them to hear God’s instruction and to live obedient lives in response.
If we follow the story of God’s people throughout the Old Testament, we see that they failed to do this again and again. No matter how hard they tried, they could not keep His instructions. If you’re reading this, you know the same is true of us! But God sent a Rescuer who made a way for His people to know and love Him. This is the story of the Bible—the story of God’s faithfulness to rescue a people for Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ.
So how can we love God with all our heart, soul, and strength? If we want to love Him with everything we’ve got, we don’t just need behavioral modification; we need true heart transformation! This heart-change only happens by the power of the Holy Spirit through the saving grace of Jesus Christ. We love because He first loved us.Just like the ancient Israelites regularly recited the Shema, we can regularly rehearse the truths of God’s Word to remind ourselves that we were created by and for God, that we rebelled against God, but that we can be saved through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Pray: The Bible tells us the story of God’s faithfulness to rescue a people for Himself through His Son, Jesus. Ask God to help you delight in the life Christ offers us!